Published on October 12th, 2022 | by University of Mississippi


Dignity Drive Seeks to Make a Difference: North Mississippi VISTA Project Collecting Items for Those with Housing and Financial Needs

The North Mississippi VISTA Project, hosted at the Grisham-McLean Institute for Public Service and Community Engagement at the University of Mississippi, is conducting a “Dignity Drive” through October 31, 2022 to help people with housing and financial needs.

All items donated will go to LOU community organizations such as Communicare Project THRIVE, Doors of Hope, and Grove Grocery. Go to for an item list and more information.

Items can be dropped off in marked containers in the lobby of Guyton Hall, at the Grisham-McLean Institute on the third floor of Howry Hall and at Grove Grocery in Kinard Hall.

“The recent inflationary pressures and economic uncertainty mean that many families are struggling to make ends meet,” said Laura Martin, associate director of the Grisham-McLean Institute. “When one of our community partners suggested that a Dignity Drive could meet some of these needs, we thought it was a great way to bring our VISTA members together through service.”

The drive is an extension of the local observance of the Sept. 11 Day of Service.

“Our colleagues at AmeriCorps have called on us to honor the Sept. 11 National Day of Service and Remembrance by crossing divides and lifting up our neighbors,” said Emily Echols, the institute’s project manager. “The Dignity Drive gives us a way to engage campus and community in a collective act of care and service.”

The North Mississippi VISTA Project places members in partner organizations to advance the shared mission of fighting poverty and improving quality of life for all Mississippians. VISTA members dedicate a year of full-time service to build sustainable systems that connect the university to underserved communities throughout an 11-county area.

“Speaking as a VISTA member, our duty is to the communities that we serve in,” said Dayton Ashby, VISTA for the Grisham-McLean Institute. “Through service, it’s my hope, and certainly the hope of the North Mississippi VISTA Project, to help local organizations fight poverty through capacity-boosting partnerships.

“We make many sacrifices as VISTAs, but we chose this path to make a difference. Poverty might be generational and it might be a struggle to fix in the short term, but it doesn’t have to be permanent.”

VISTA members serve in schools, community colleges, nonprofit organizations and centers at the university. They extend and deepen community engagement efforts at Ole Miss and serve as a conduit to connect partner organizations to the university.

“The impact VISTA members have had across northern Mississippi has proven to be invaluable in making a difference within the communities of our partner organizations,” said Adriana Cooper, VISTA leader with the project.

“Our members have reached over 9,700 beneficiaries and have helped 178 organizations receive capacity-building services in the past year. The lasting impact of a year of service speaks volumes to the dedication of our VISTAs and to our ever-growing program.”

For more information, contact or call 662-915-2397.

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The University of Mississippi, affectionately known as Ole Miss, is Mississippi’s flagship university. A member of the elite group of R1: Doctoral Universities - Highest Research Activity by the Carnegie Classification, Ole Miss has a long history of producing leaders in public service, business, academics and the professions. Its 16 academic divisions include a major medical school; nationally recognized schools of accountancy, law and pharmacy; and an Honors College acclaimed for a blend of academic rigor, experiential learning and opportunities for community action. Acclaimed as one of the nation’s most beautiful, Ole Miss's main campus is in Oxford, which is routinely recognized as one of the nation's best college towns.

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